What if we told you we had a plan to get you through the next six Halloweens for $1?
No. Not $1 each year. Just one buck for all six of them.
It's actually $1.06 with the tax. But that's still less than 18 cents a year.
Hogwash, you're probably thinking. After all, a recent survey by Visa Inc. found that the average American will drop $47 this year on Halloween candy and decorations, up 18 percent from 2007. Guess they're gonna charge it.
Well, we're not kidding. We've got three plans to help you get through Halloween, On The Cheap-style.
We built all the plans after receiving a great tip from Wescosville resident Bonnie Wilson. When her daughters were trick-or-treaters, she was worried about all of the candy they took home. Her response turned out to be a money-saver and a hit with the kids in the neighborhood.
"One year I got several bags of candy and I also bought school supplies: rulers, erasers, stickers and sports pencils," Bonnie said.
The first year she tried it, Bonnie held out two trays. One had peanut butter cups and candy bars. The other had pencils and erasers and stickers. The kids were allowed to pick just one thing. Out of about 75 children to come to her door, only one picked the candy.
"That cinched it for me," Bonnie said. "From then on, I just got the school stuff. It was cheaper and the kids were thrilled with it."
We know you need this advice. Our latest On The Cheap poll found that more than half of respondents were going to hide in the bathroom this Halloween.
Here's how you can tailor Bonnie's advice to your budget and actually open your door when trick-or-treaters come knocking.
The Platinum plan: At Staples, we found 10-packs of monkey head erasers that fit on the end of a pencil for 99 cents. At the dollar store we found 12-packs of bright-colored pencils with planets and "You are special" on them. Put them on a tray and let the kids pick one.
Total cost: About $10 for 100 kids, or 10 cents a kid.
The Bronze plan: Again at the dollar store, we found a 48-pack of crayons and a 53-pack of little blue plastic policemen, kind of like the little green Army men. (We realize plastic police men aren't really school supplies. But they're cheap and boys will love them, so we thought you wouldn't care.) Put them all in a bowl and let the kids pick their choice.
Total cost: About $2 for 100 kids, or 2 cents a kid.
If those options are too steep for you, we understand. Don't worry. We saved the best for last.
The Ultimate Cheap-O: The best find at the dollar store was a book with 612 stickers in it, a mix of bugs, stars, hearts and flowers, all smaller than a postage stamp. Let the little ones pick out their favorite sticker to put on their face or the back of their hand. If any kids snub their noses at a cute little butterfly sticker, tell them you'll give them a candy bar if they rake the leaves up from your lawn.
Total cost: 18 cents for 100 kids, or less than a fifth of a penny a kid. Save the rest of the stickers for the next five Halloweens.
Got a tip? On The Cheap appears Sundays. Send your cheapskate ideas to email@example.com or call 610-820-6694.